As part of my two cents series on homeschooling I read The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life by Julie Bogart
Is this a real review?
Ok, I almost didn’t review this at all and in the end, I guess it still isn’t a traditional review. I’m not one to shy away from a negative review, but I do want my reviews to be constructive and just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that you (dearest reader) won’t think its the best book ever. That said, I’ve had multiple people tell me that they read it and ended up feeling not great about themselves afterwards. Let me tackle that first.
My two cents? No one should feel bad about their homeschool not being “magical” enough.
No one knows what you know about your family.
Therefore, No one else can write you a manual for this gig. Shrug. It’s just not going to happen. We’re all in this weird homeschooling out of the box lifestyle. The same but different. If you must have a magical homeschool connotation then we are all unicorns. Feel better?
I’ve been at this awhile. Don’t fall into these traps:
- Imposter Syndrome: Enough said. You be you. Maybe you hate an art mess. It doesn’t make you a bad homeschooler.
- Thinking you need the latest and greatest: You need what works for your kid, nothing more or less than that. Maybe you do need to switch things up, but not every new thing will work for you.
- Believing Social Media Influencers: We are a market now and there are plenty of people making money off their homeschool connections. Remember that.
My quibbles with this particular book
- Chores. Not only do I believe in strength in numbers, I think that’s how you build up a family culture. Even in a one kid home, a couple of people should be able to whip through daily chores in an hour a day? I mean hopefully less, but hiring out basic adulting skills makes for a young adult who expects to be waited on. Or is ignorant that these jobs need to be done and doesn’t know how to tackle them on their own. Our family side hustle has always been remodeling/house flipping and our kids not only can sweep a floor but also use power tools.
- The Overall Tone. Julie’s tone came off as flippant at best and condescending at its worst. I realize that she is a mentor to many homeschoolers, but sheesh, I felt many of her decrees were way too much Dolores Umbridge in that her way is best. There is no “one way” to homeschool. Julie’s kids aren’t yours and what works for her may work, or it could be a disaster in your home.
- Hearing the Stats. This book could have been homeschooling methods and the research backing them up or this is my personal story of how homeschooling worked in my family. By being both, it felt disjointed.
- Memorization. I’m not going to say that the traditional memorization route is for everyone. Some kids have strong learning differences that prevent it. Some families choose not to press the issue cause they have reasons I haven’t thought of yet. However, entirely dismissing rote memorization? Going with Google IQ? Not a great idea. As an adult, I have to google plenty of things outside my wheelhouse. I don’t have to google everything. Waiting for your kids to become an expert and memorize things on their own may not work.
- Boundaries. Along the same lines as with Chores and Memorization, our kids are part of our family, but as the parents, we make the rules. There is no way in the world (paraphrase because I don’t have the book in front of me) I’m going to “damage a table so that I don’t get upset when the kids do.” Kids need rules and responsibilities that are age appropriate. As their primary educator you also have the responsibility to make certain that they know what they need to know before they graduate to their next step. Sometimes that means learning things they may not care about now. Like filing taxes. Teach them how to do that.
- The Constant Self Promotion. No joke, while typing this out I got two emails from Julie. The book isn’t any less in your face. At least she isn’t pretending that she isn’t in this to build her company. She is selling herself and you either accept that or don’t.
What I liked
She gives some great ideas about art centers and building in creative time. I think there are a lot of parents who feel they need permission to teach the arts.
The overall tone that homeschooling won’t ruin your kids for real life. My kids would not be the people they are now without it. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets about choices I made for them. Of course, I do; so do parents who send their kids to school.
After all the buzz I wanted to like it and instead ended up shaking my head in disagreement. Since most homeschoolers are on a budget due to the whole one income thing, this is my recommendation. If you can check it out of your library, do that first before purchasing in case her approach doesn’t work for you.